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In this detailed guide, I will show you how to remove bathtub drain cover or stopper if you don’t know how to do so! Though it is such a small part of your bathroom, your tub stopper plays an important role.
When it isn’t working properly, it can cause major issues. But for such a simple thing, it can sometimes feel complicated to use.
This is your guide for not only determining which type of stopper that you have, but how to remove it as well. Turn what once may have felt unnecessarily complicated into something simple once again.
Bathtub Drain Stopper Types
Before you can worry about removing the stopper, you must first be able to identify which one you have. That may seem simple but there are more than a few kinds out there. A lot of them look similar to one another.
The first place to start is identifying whether or not you have a trip lever. If you don’t, then you either have a push pull, toe touch, PresFloe, Flip-It, or a stopper that is lift-and-turn.
All of those stoppers operate without the aforementioned trip lever mechanism. Moreover, they are the easiest kind to replace or remove since you don’t actually have to remove a trip lever.
Now that we know there is a major difference in some of these stoppers, here is a little better description of the type of stoppers. Check out the descriptions to get a better idea of which style of stopper may be in your tub.
Toe Touch. This one is self-explanatory. The stopper closes and opens with a little bit of a push from your toe. Simple to operate but requires applied pressure to open or close.
Push-Pull. This is one of the more common options out there. The stopper will have a knob in the center. To activate it, you would have to either pull it up to open it or push it down to close it.
Lift and Turn. Though it looks quite similar to the Push-Pull stopper, there is a minor difference. Instead of simply pushing or pulling, you have to turn to both open and close. This ensures that the stopper is not accidentally pushed or pulled.
Flip-It. This style of stopper makes use of a toggle that, when flipped side to side, either opens or closes the drain.
PresFlo. This one has an O-ring that creates a seal. It spins within the drain opening to either the closed or open position thanks to a little pressure on a single side.
Pop-Up. There are two styles for the Pop-Up stopper: a turn style or trip lever mechanism. This mechanism is on the overflow and it moves an internal push rod up against a rock arm.
The rocker arm is attached to the stopper to either lower or raise it. There is a visible stopper and it can’t be covered by an external strainer.
Plunger Style. Another style that uses either a turn style or trip lever to operate. The internal plunger stops water flow.
When the overflow plate gets activated, it causes the plunger to either lower or raise. These assemblies don’t typically have a visible stopper, they have some sort of strainer that covers the drain.
How To Remove a Toe Touch Tub Stopper
To remove a toe touch stopper, you will need to have a flathead screwdriver. Start by ensuring that the tub is in the open position like you are trying to empty it.
Grasp hold of the shaft cylinder of your stopper and then turn the top of it counterclockwise. Should the action cause the shaft cylinder to want to turn, then you would let go of your hold and continue to unscrew.
That shaft cylinder threads into the crossbar. When it is unthreaded, you can lift and remove the stopper as a whole.
There are some stoppers, though, where you can hold the shaft cylinder and turn the top cap in a way that allows you to just unscrew the cap part of your stopper.
Should that be the case, then just unscrew the top cape until it comes off completely. When the top cap is off, then unscrew the stopper’s shaft cylinder in counterclockwise movements to remove the threaded post that is screwed into the strainer’s cross bar.
Some of them may even have a screwdriver slot that gives you an easier removal point through the use of a screwdriver.
How To Remove a Push Pull Drain Stopper
Remember that the push-pull requires a simple action: pull up to drain, push down to stop. For this, you will need the aforementioned flathead screwdriver as well as a pair of pliers and a clean rag.
The good news here is that the stopper can be in either position, open or closed. You will have to remove the knob from the top of the stopper.
Just hold the body of the stopper and unscrew the knob through counterclockwise movements. If the knob does not unscrew, use the rag and some pliers to twist the knob off. The rag will prevent you from damaging the knob.
With the knob removed, use your screwdriver to unscrew the brass insert. The insert is in the middle of the stopper; you need to turn it counterclockwise to loosen. That post is threaded into the strainer’s crossbar.
From here, all that you need to do is lift off the stopper from the strainer. Simple and effective whether removing an old stopper or installing a new one.
How To Remove Lift and Turn Drain Stopper
This process is a little more complicated. In addition to the flathead screwdriver, you will also need a set of Allen wrenches to get the job done.
The good news is that Allen wrenches are super common and can be picked up in small kits for little cost. Make sure that the stopper is in the open position to start, as if you were emptying the tub.
From there, hold the body of the stopper and turn the knob in the middle. You are looking for a set screw located on the knob.
If your stopper doesn’t have that set screw, turn the stopper in a counterclockwise motion until your stopper fully unthreads from the strainer portion of the assembly.
If it still doesn’t unscrew, then you may have one of the two different styles of this stopper. There is one style that has a set screw on the post shaft.
Still in the open position, you would need to lift the stopper and turn until you see a screw. That is the set screw, which means that you can move on to the next step.
Should you still not see a set screw, then you have a stopper with a channel built in right around the stopper. Instead of a set screw, there is a pin on the strainer. The channel rotates around the pin to pull off the lift and turn function.
Lift up the stopper and rotate the stopper in a counterclockwise fashion. Do so until the slot at the bottom of the channel lines up with the pin. When it lines up, it will release the stopper so that you can pull it up.
From here, you will need to loosen the set screw with your screwdriver or wrenches. The good news is that you don’t have to remove the set screw entirely. Just loosen it so that you can eventually remove the stopper.
Now you need to lift up the stopper from the post. If, after loosening the set screw, the stopper won’t pull up, try loosening a little more.
If the screw has been removed entirely and won’t slide off, you probably have some form of buildup between the post and the stopper.
Depending on the severity of the buildup, you might need to use more pressure or a liquid wrench solvent that will break down that buildup. With the stopper lifted, you can unscrew the post located on the strainer.
Lift the stopper off entirely. If there is no set screw and it doesn’t lift off, but the stopper spins without necessarily unscrewing, then you could be facing a stripped post thread.
You will need to put more pressure on while unscrewing to help break the stopper free. You might have to unscrew the bath waste flange completely from the drain pipe if that doesn’t work.
How To Remove Popup Drain Stopper
For this method, you just need a bucket and a clean rag to get the job done. No screwdrivers, no wrenches, and no suction cups.
This type of stopper has a mechanism located on the overflow faceplate. Depending on what type of face plate you have, one of two things will happen.
Either the trip lever will move up and down or it will rotate left or right. Most have faceplates that rotate. Start by flipping the trip lever (or rotating it if that’s what yours does) so that the stopper is set to the open position.
Depending on the type of pop-up stopper that you have, yours may just pull up easily. Others might require a little bit of wiggling and rocking back and forth while pulling up.
Others still have a rocker arm that is attached to the stopper; that means you have to pull the stopper up enough so that it clears the drain and then you have to pull horizontally to remove the stopper from the drain.
If you have the latter, you will know it when you begin to pull up on the stopper and see an arm beneath. With your clean rag, put it at the bottom of the tub right at the beginning of the drain.
That will cover the tub and make sure that the rocker arm doesn’t scratch or dig into the tub. Removing a pop-up stopper can be a bit messy.
That’s because most drains will have some sort of accumulation of soap, hair, and other loose debris. The bucket is good for this part. Not only does it help to keep things neat, but it prevents damage to your tub as well.
Removing a Flip-It Stopper
This is the easiest one to remove. Not only does it not require any tools to get the job done, but it is a simple process in general. Remember, this is the method that makes use of O-rings to keep the stopper fully in place.
Just grasp the outer chrome round body instead of the toggle. Rotate the stopper while also pulling up in the same motion. The cool thing here is that it really doesn’t matter which direction that you rotate your stopper.
If you are met with a little resistance, try wiggling the stopper back and forth as you pull. That should be enough to get the stopper out completely with little to no effort involved.
Removing a PresFlo Stopper
Though this one is a little similar to the previous stopper, it can be a little tricky. Having a small suction cup available will help expedite the process substantially. PresFlo drains also use an O-ring to hold the cover in place.
That O-ring allows for easier rotation to keep the drain closed. PresFlo is great for those who have disabilities or have difficulty bending to use one of the other drain types.
That said, this system is unique when compared to the others. If you are not familiar with them, they can be a little tricky to figure out.
The good news is that these drains come with a suction cup, so hopefully you did not throw it away when you got this kind of stopper.
With the suction cup ready, make sure that the stopper is in a level flat position in the drain. Press down with the suction cup over top of the stopper.
Make sure that you have a good, tight seal over the top of the stopper. It may take a try or two to ensure that the stopper does not rotate.
With a firm grasp on your suction cup, pull straight up on the stopper. Remember that you may have to grasp a few times to ensure that the stopper doesn’t move. Pull it up and out of the drain body to completely remove it.
Removing a Trip Lever Stopper
With a screwdriver handy, you will need to start by finding the screws on your trip lever stopper. Eventually, you will need to remove the screws from the cover plate but make sure that you only remove one screw out of the faceplate first.
Loosen the screw slowly; it can be any screw that you choose. When the screw is removed, get a firm grasp on the faceplate. Now you can remove the other screw.
The more you loosen the screw, the more the faceplate will begin to swivel. When it is loose enough that you can swing it down and away, you should see the side screw hole.
Reinstall the first screw back into that exposed overflow elbow. It keeps the loose elbow from disappearing. With a firm grasp on the faceplate, remove the second screw. Pull out the trip lever; you may need to wiggle it a bit.
Remember that on this tub drain type, the stopper is inside the pipe. You can loosen or tighten the adjustable linkage as you see fit as the stopper has to be at the correct height to properly drain the bathtub.
Hello, my name is David Zal and I’m a plumber with more than 20 years of experience based in Englewood (Florida). I like to teach normal people how to make easy fixes in their homes. I believe that a lot can be achieved just with DYI and that’s why I started this blog.